Generator safety tips

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 9:29 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 @ 9:29 PM

Never run your generator in a garage, carport, crawl space, shed or porch. Place outdoors but under cover to prevent electrocution if unit gets wet. Be sure the generator isn’t positioned outside an open window, which can allow fumes into the home.

Use a carbon-monoxide alarm that’s battery-operated or has battery backup.

Never feed power from a portable generator into a wall outlet. This can kill linemen working to restore power or your neighbors who are served by the same transformer.
It also can damage your generator.

Don’t use power cords that are frayed, torn or cut. This can cause a fire or shock. Be sure all three prongs are intact and the cord is outdoor-rated. The cord’s wattage or amps must not be smaller than the sum of the connected appliance loads.

Store fuel and generator in a ventilated area and away from natural-gas water heaters. Vapors can escape from closed cans and tanks, travel to the pilot light and ignite.

Never have wet hands when operating a generator. Never let water come in contact with the generator.

Make sure you have the right cords and connectors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says you should not use an auxiliary tank.

Most starters use rope pulls. If yours uses a battery, keep it charged.

Always turn the engine off before refueling and let the generator cool.

Don’t spill fuel. It can ignite.

Even in the off-season, your portable generator can become just that, at the hands of a thief. Permanently bolt it down or at least secure it with a strong chain and lock.

More information: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Need more power? Many homeowners opt for large standby generators

Large, permanent generators — also known as automatic standby generators — are more powerful and quieter then their portable counterparts. And newer models are better and less intrusive than older versions.

Most are powered by propane or natural gas stored in large underground tanks or are fed by service lines. That means no shuttling to service stations to fill gasoline cans.

They’re directly wired into the home’s circuit panel. When power goes out, just fire it up and flip a switch.

Some units have a “brain” that detects outages, automatically starts the generator, and switches circuits in seconds. When power resumes, the system flips back to the house circuit and powers down the generator.

Standby generators can range in power up to 45,000 watts — enough to power an entire large home.

Determining if you need a standby generator

List the appliances you’ll want operating in an outage and total the required wattage.

Most units range in price from $10,000-$30,000. You’ll also have to pay for a concrete slab, installation and wiring.

You’ll be subject to the laborious, and costly, permitting process used for new driveways, fences, shutters and roofs. You’ll also need to meet the rules of your local homeowners association.

You’ll need to be familiar with the manufacturer’s guidelines for placement and operation. Some homes will not have room outside to place generators and still have the required space for proper ventilation and to meet fire codes and zoning.

Finding a reputable company

Consumer groups and even the police in the past have dealt with complaints that generator sales and installation outfits took money and either delivered the generators but never installed them, or never delivered them at all.

Some companies poured just the concrete slab. Some delivered units but never pulled permits.

Make sure the company shows its license. Check for complaints. Get referrals.

Sources: Palm Beach Post archives, bobvila.com, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Florida Power & Light Co.

Why is the sun red, the sky yellow in London? 

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 5:44 PM

The Reason For The Red Sun And Yellow Skies In London

An eerie weather phenomenon across parts of the United Kingdom is turning the skies an anemic yellow color and making the sun appear blood red.

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The anomaly is not the beginning of the end of days or a sign of the apocalypse, scientists said. Instead, it’s directly related to Hurricane Ophelia, which is whipping through the region.

The storm’s tropical air dragged in dust from the Sahara Desert and air pollution from wildfires in Spain and Portugal as it moved north through the Atlantic, creating the strange spectacle, the BBC reported.

The sky in France's Brittany region also turned yellow on Monday, Oct. 16,2017 as nearby Hurricane Ophelia brought a mix of sand from the Sahara and particles from Spain and Portugal's forest fires over the region. (David Vincent/AP)

“The dust gets picked up into the air and goes high up into the atmosphere, and that dust has been dragged high up in the atmosphere above the UK,” BBC weatherman Simon King said, according to the Express.

The blood-red sun Monday morning across the region is a result of the same weather phenomenon creating the yellow skies, according to the U.K.’s  Meteorological Office or Met Office.

“The same southerly winds that have brought us the current warmth have also drawn dust from the Sahara to our latitudes and the dust scatters the blue light from the sun letting more red light through much as at sunrise or sunset,” Met officials said on the agency’s website.

>> Related: Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt much sooner than predicted, study reveals

Social media users in London chronicled the spectacle on Twitter.

Disaster declared in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastates island

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2017 @ 11:21 AM

Hurricane Maria Makes Landfall In Puerto Rico

President Donald Trump on Thursday declared a federal disaster in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria brought pounding rain and punishing winds to the island, knocking out power and causing widespread flooding and landslides.

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The declaration allows for federal resources to be used for Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

The island is reeling after Maria made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. With maximum sustained winds measured at 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years.

People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, September 20, 2017. The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. territory deeper into financial crisis. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)(Carlos Giusti/AP)

"Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this," Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

Videos posted on social media showed swift floodwaters and powerful winds brought to Puerto Rico by Maria.

Maria knocked out power to the entire island and its 3.4 million residents, officials said Wednesday.

Ricardo Ramos, CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told CNN that it could be as long as six months before power is restored.

“The system has been basically destroyed,” he said.

Maria continued to churn over the Atlantic Ocean as a major Category 3 hurricane on Thursday afternoon with maximum sustained winds measured at 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. advisory. Officials warned that the storm, which is expected to turn to the north early Friday, could still strengthen over the next day or two.

Florida's 10 safest cities in a hurricane

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6:35 PM

Get Ahead of the Storm - 5 Severe Weather Hacks

There’s really no place that’s 100 percent safe in Florida when it comes to hurricanes.

Even Orlando got hit twice in 2004 by hurricanes Charley and Frances.

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And, although Florida enjoyed a more than 10-year hurricane drought after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the Florida Panhandle in 2016. 

Still, Homeinsurance.com has ranked Florida’s cities based on their evaluation of NOAA-identified storms from 1965 to October 2014, doling out scores based on the number of storm events, number of storm-related deaths, property damage and storm-related injuries.

The top 10 safest cities in Florida during a hurricane, according to the insurance study, are:

  1. Leesburg
  2. Orlando
  3. Sanford
  4. Kissimmee
  5. Palatka
  6. Lake City
  7. Naples
  8. Ocala
  9. Gainesville
  10. Fernandina Beach


The entire ranking is below.

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. The black line, when selected, and dots show the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track of the center at the times indicated.(National Hurricane Center)
Read more about the Home Insurance study here.

9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane

Published: Monday, September 18, 2017 @ 4:37 PM

What are the Differences Between Hurricane Categories?

Whenever a hurricane is poised to strike a region, there are several terms meteorologists use that might not be familiar.

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Here are common ones you should know as you keep your eye on the storm’s path: 

Feeder band

Lines or bands of low-level clouds that move (feed) into the upper region of a thunderstorm, usually from the east through south.

This term also is used in tropical meteorology to describe spiral-shaped bands of convection surrounding, and moving toward, the center of a tropical cyclone.

Squalls

When the wind speed increases to at least 16 knots and is sustained at 22 knots or more for at least one minute.

Storm surge

An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. The height is the difference between the normal level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide.

>> Related: What is storm surge and why is it dangerous? 

Eye wall

An organized band or ring of clouds that surround the eye, or light-wind center, of a tropical cyclone. Eye wall and wall cloud are used synonymously.

Sustained winds

Wind speed determined by averaging observed values over a two-minute period.

Computer models

Meteorologists use computer models to figure out a storm’s path and its potential path. The models are based on typical weather patterns.

Advisory

Official information describing all tropical cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions that should be taken.

Hurricane watch

An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

Hurricane warning

An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.